Analyzing Controversial Issues Sociology 220 Prof. Pamela Oliver Issues for project 1, debate • Is it appropriate to use race or ethnic profiling in policing and security enforcement? • Should the University make special efforts to recruit and retain students who are ethnic/racial minorities? • Should U.S. immigration law be changed to allow more workers from Mexico? • Should English be the only language of instruction in U.S. public schools? Sources • We are looking for opinionated or “biased” sources, people who really advocate each side • We want opinions from BOTH sides – No “straw men” (Not what the opposition says a group thinks, but what they themselves say) – You are the judge or analyst weighing both sides fairly, NOT the lawyer advocating for one side • You want to sort your sources into “sides” and notice what kinds of claims are being made on each side • Library Lecture Sept 20 (Tuesday) HERE Academic honesty • No plagiarism. For how to avoid see: http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/QPA_plagiarism.html • References & citations must be honest, not “faked” • The penalty for academic dishonesty will range from F on the paper to F in the class (depending on severity) PLUS a letter to the Dean’s office describing the offense • You will submit papers electronically, they will be checked through turnitin.com, plagiarism detection software • Apologies to those of you who would not cheat, plus assurance that honesty will not be punished Major Dimensions of analysis • Interests: who stands to gain/lose • Factual claims: assertions about reality • Value claims: assertions about justice or morality • Rhetoric & Discourse: how language is used to persuade, to position the issue with respect to other issues or principles Plan for class • Use Indian mascots & University funding as example issues for concepts • Do concepts, first with University funding as example, then discussion with mascots as example • ~20-30 minutes with University funding as example • ~ 10 minutes of general discussion of mascots to get going • ~30 minutes with mascots as example of concepts Interests • What people stand to gain or lose from different policies – Money – Jobs – Political Power – Prestige, sense of superiority – Cultural comfort: your sense of belonging or being right is not challenged • People may disguise their interests under claims of general principles – This may be entirely unconscious Social Location & Interests • People in common social locations have common or group interests – Social location = place in society • Policies ALWAYS affect people differently, depending upon their social location • People often think that what is good for them is good for everyone, often genuinely unaware of others’ interests • There is generally no policy that is “good for everyone.” It is a matter of balancing interests & principles. Interest groups in issue of whether Wisconsin should provide more GPR (general program revenue) for UW • UW students & their families – Wealthier families who could pay more & are getting a bargain compared to other choices – Lower income families who cannot afford higher tuition, cannot attend • Wisconsin taxpayers who don’t send kids to UW • Faculty & staff of UW • ? Politicians seeking to “score points” • Long-term economic health of state: need more college grads? • College grads in a better job position if they have less competition (fewer others are college grads) Factual Claims • What people say “the facts” are • Most times, the different sides disagree about facts • People may make factual claims about which the evidence is non-existent, in dispute, or contrary • Important to look for factual claims & the evidence supporting them Factual claims about UW funding • Whether GPR has gone up or down (whether you index for inflation) • What the money is being used for (“waste” or “bureaucracy” or “efficiency”) • Whether higher tuition is cause of increase in economic standing of UW students • How Wisconsin tax burden is distributed Value Claims • Assertions about core principles of justice, fairness, equality, morality • Some people believe as a value that only individual interests matter, but most people adhere to other more general values • Both sides generally advocate positive values • The sides may invoke different values or weigh them differently, or may agree on values but disagree on how to accomplish them Value claims (some) in UW funding • College education should be available to all VS college education is a luxury that should be for those who can afford it • Taxes should be as low as possible VS taxes should be high enough to pay for social needs • Professors should not earn so much relative to ordinary working people Rhetoric - Discourse • The words that are used, how the issue is compared to others • The two sides usually use different language, talk about the issue in different ways • Non-ethnic example: pro-life vs pro-choice. Different ways of framing what abortion is “about” • Those advocating points of view typically choose their language & framing purposefully to make a point (but sometimes are unconscious of this) • Rhetoric may be grounded in larger religious, political or philosophical belief systems Rhetoric – Discourse University Funding • “Waste,” “administrative overhead,” “mismanagement” • Professors who don’t teach, uncaring, inaccessible to students • Great university • Economic value of university • ?? Interest groups in Indian mascots Interest groups in Indian mascots • American Indians • Professional sports teams • College sports teams • High school sports teams • Others promoting racial sensitivity • Others opposing “special recognition” of minorities or who value White dominance American Indians interests • Insulted • Lowers self-esteem of children, hard to take pride in your ethnicity Sports team interests Sports team interests • Money • Symbolic identification with the icon; don’t want to give it up • Deeper interests about not being challenged in sense of entitlement: why should I have to adjust? Factual claims about mascots Factual claims about mascots • Financial costs of changing – Direct – Indirect through alumni/customer anger • Whether most AmInds object • Whether they are respectful • History & its effects • Mascots are important to the Whites who use them • Claims about actual history of terms (I.e. original meaning of “redskin” or “warrior”) Value claims for mascots Value claims for mascots • Symbols that disparage others should not be used • Targets of symbols should decide whether something is disparaging • Minorities are too oversensitive • The issue is trivial, no big deal Rhetoric, discourse Rhetoric, discourse • “Fighting whites” – http://www.cafepress.com/fightinwhite – http://www.turtletrack.org/Issues02/Co12142002/CO_12142002_Fighting_Whites.ht m • Examples of other groups (both sides) – Fighting Irish, Saxons, Spartans – Atlanta Negroes, Fighting Bishops (pope as mascot) – Parallels to Black icons (mammy, lantern boy) • Oversensitive, trivial, respectful NOTE: Plan is to add to the mascot notes in class from student discussions.
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